Eine runde Sache – die weltweit erste Jeans, die im Kreislauf bleibt

Best Practices - Our members' projects

Eine runde Sache – die weltweit erste Jeans, die im Kreislauf bleibt


Field of action

Project partner




Project duration

Circular fashion & sustainable products

Fashion for Good
Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
Manufacturer in Bangladesh

Bangladesh (manufacturing)
Europe, Brazil (sales)

Since 2018


With the world's population growing by 1.5 billion over the next 11 years, we are headed for the exhaustion of natural resources. One solution is the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principle: Where possible, production should only use products and materials that are harmless to health and the environment and therefore, can be returned to the production cycle in the sense of a closed-loop economy. Accordingly, considerations of reuse and recycling are already taken into account during the design phase. The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has developed the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) CertifiedTM product programme, which evaluates and certifies textile products and materials with regard to closed life cycles.

In 2017, C&A with Fashion for Good was the first fashion retailer worldwide to produce T-shirts with the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Gold certificate. In 2018, they achieved this with a more complex product: the first ever denim jeans under Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Gold certification was produced. Beforehand, new suppliers and factories had been selected and materials and components individually analysed, certified and improved. The jeans are available at C&A since 2018.

Roundabout instead of one-way street: the cradle-to-cradle approach

By 2030, the world population will reach nine billion people. To meet the needs of a growing population, nature's limits will continue to be strained. Resource efficiency and sustainable environmental management are therefore important issues for the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.

One solution is the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principle. In this approach, reuse and recycling are already taken into account in the design of new products. In textile production, for example, where possible only materials that are harmless to both health and the environment are used. This includes the use of chemicals, water and energy in production, material recycling and social conditions for all parties involved. This results in products that can be returned to the production cycle again and again, so that no more waste is generated and valuable resources are preserved.

C&A wants to normalise this approach along its entire value chain. In order to realise this claim, C&A has entered into a partnership with the Fashion for Good initiative, which was founded by the C&A Foundation. In addition, C&A was the first textile retailer in the world to award produce T-shirts and jeans with the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM gold certification. The product standard Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTMdeveloped by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, is the only standard in the world that has set itself the goal of holistically evaluating the circulatory capacity of a product. All aspects of product manufacturing are taken into account - from the procurement of raw materials to the use of chemicals, water or energy in production to the social conditions in the value chain.

In 2017, C&A and Fashion for Good initially commissioned two Indian-based clothing manufacturers to develop and produce two T-shirts with Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Gold certification. In 2018, the development and production of a more complex product - denim jeans - followed in close cooperation with a manufacturer in Bangladesh.

An approach, that pays off

By the end of 2018, C&A had produced more than two million garments with Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM certification of a wide range of products. This has set incentives for imitation in the industry.

The project has been well received - not only by C&A employees. NGOs, universities and the media have also responded positively to the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM certification. The fact that C&A customers appreciate it is reflected in the success of C&A's more sustainable #WearTheChange collection.

The approach is therefore well suited for sustainability communication. The accompanying media campaign positions C&A as an innovative company with a high level of responsibility for people and the environment.

"Our approach is based on the idea that we must take our industry from a model of 'making, wearing and disposing' to a model in which every garment product is designed for its next life. We call on the fashion industry to join us in changing the way we make jeans. Follow our example and use the insights we have gained."

Jeffrey Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer, C&A

Experiences and recommendations

  • One of the biggest challenges was the complexity of the supply chain. C&A had to convince everyone one of their suppliers of this project.
  • The project made some demands on the suppliers involved. Basically, they should be interested in sustainability and have a good track record in social and environmental management. Innovative thinking and the willingness to invest resources in the project are also important.
  • The analysis of the numerous chemicals used in production was also complex. Individual components such as biological sewing thread had to be specially optimised.
  • A further prerequisite for the success of the project is to become active on a holistic basis. In the Cradle to Cradle philosophy this is summarised in the so-called "Five Goods": good materials, good economy, good energy, good water and good life.
  • C&A wants to motivate other companies to bring recyclable products onto the market. This is why C&A and Fashion for Good have published a toolbox. On the one hand, this toolbox contains the world's first guide to the production of cradle-to-cradle certified denim jeans. Secondly, an "almanac" specifies all materials and ingredients that are currently Cradle to Cradle certified and available on the market. Both documents can be downloaded from the C&A case study page of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles website.

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

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Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
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